For me, I can be weel content,
To eat my bannock on the bent,
And kitchen’t wi’ fresh air;
O’ lang kail I can mak’ a feast,
And cantily baud up my crest
And laugh at dishes rare.
– Allan Ramsay, 1686 – 1758, Scottish Makar (poet).
In Scotland a bannock is a type of bread or cake, which can sometimes resemble a scone, a tea cake or an oatcake. The recipes differ in each region. It is essentially a type of round flat bread cut into wedges.
Historically, specially made bannocks were used in rituals to mark the changing gaelic seasons. As F. Marian McNeill states in The Scots Kitchen:
Oatcakes, prepared in a special way were used from time immemorial, in the rites of Beltane (May 1st, O.S.). Pennant (1769) writes: “Everyone takes a cake of oatmeal, upon which are raised nine square knobs, each dedicated to some particular being, the supposed preserver of their flocks and herds, or to some particular animal, the real destroyer of them. Each person turns his face to the fire, breaks off a knob, and flinging it over his shoulder, says: “This I give to thee, preserve thou my horses; this to thee, preserve thou my sheep,” and so on. After that, they use the same ceremony to the noxious animals: “This I give to thee, O Fox, spare thou my lambs; this to thee, O Hooded Crow, this to thee O Eagle!”